DAY MEN Interview with Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson

For thousands of years, the world has been controlled by the "50 Families"—a secret network of vampire covens engaged in a timeless struggle for power. But when the sun rises, the vampires are forced to employ the services of a human who acts as their daytime fixer and protector… Trained for centuries to be the mortal soldiers of their vampire employers, the Day Men go forth at sunrise, alone into the world, to do the bidding of their sleeping benefactors.

Written by Matt Gagnon (FREELANCERS) & Michael Alan Nelson (DC’s SUPERGIRL, HEXED) and drawn by industry legend Brian Stelfreeze, DAY MEN is a sexy, action-packed epic that brings modern master Brian Stelfreeze back to drawing monthly comics for the first time since 2005!

We caught up with the co-writers of the series, Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson, to talk about the new series from BOOM! Studios, DAY MEN.

Horror News Network: How did you come up with the concept for this book?

Matt Gagnon: I’ve been a fan of the vampire genre for about as long as I’ve been consuming genre entertainment. Years ago I was thinking about what would make a cool vampire story, something I hadn’t seen done before. I started thinking about the concept of vampires being vulnerable during the day and wondered who they would task with protecting them and their interests. Certainly they’d have to unequivocally trust whoever that person was. Who is the human that works for the vampires and what type of special training would they have? Now that’s a character I’d want to follow.

A vampire story that follows a human. That’s how DAY MEN was born. I’m a big crime fiction fan so I started toying with the idea of vampire families being like the mafia, and every family employing one Day Man. It’s a tradition that goes back thousands of years, a position of office. The 50 families are the secret network that control the world, and the Day Men are the secret order that protect those families during the day. We started calling the story a Vampire Noir, and I think that’s a pretty accurate description.

Michael Alan Nelson: I remember the phone conversation Matt and I had when he was explaining the concept to me and the entire time I was thinking to myself, "Please ask me to be involved, please ask me to be involved." And sure enough, here I am. It's one of those concepts that's so brilliant that you wonder why no one ever thought of it before. And just from this one simple concept, we were able to weave story idea after story idea to where we had a problem of trying to figure out just which of the many directions we wanted to go.

Horror News Network: Can you tell us a bit more about the “50 Families”?

Matt Gagnon: They come in all shapes and sizes. Between the 50 of them they control all of the world, but the territory breakdowns are unlike anything on a modern map. Some families have been around for thousands of years, some only hundreds. Allegiances and adversaries are formed and broken with the changing of the wind. Our initial story follows two families that operate on the North American continent; they’re the Virgos and the Ramses. Thing is, they hate each other. Since the Civil War, they’ve been at an uneasy peace, but times are changing.

Michael Alan Nelson: Many of the families control territory based on borders that haven't existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Vampire families don't think in terms of what's going to be of benefit a year, five years, a decade from now. They're all in it for the long game. How is this going to affect the family a hundred, two hundred, a thousand years from now? It really changes the way they approach problems and conflicts. And it's difficult for Day Men to wrap their heads around these grand machinations because they're looking at things from a human perspective. It all makes for some interesting conflicts.

Horror News Network: What can you tell us about these Day Men?

Matt Gagnon: They have a tough job. And we like to emphasize that: It’s a job. Vampires are their employers and in turn that means Day Men are employees. They come from all walks of life, but the common denominator is their special training. There are only a few places in the world that the order exists to produce these unique individuals.

They primarily work during the day. As such, they’re frequently loners. They’re tasked with just about anything you could imagine by their vampire benefactors. A typical day could be something as mundane as making pick-ups and deliveries, or as intense as a full-on war. Whatever they’re doing is usually pretty wild by normal human standards.

Michael Alan Nelson: Basically, Day Men do whatever their families tell them to do. And that could mean anything. Some Day Men do nothing but answer phones and take messages while others, like David—who works for the Virgos—have a much more hands-on approach. On a given day he could be asked to deliver groceries before cleaning up a "feeding accident." Day Men are instruments of their families. They don't have any autonomy of their own. And sometimes they are seen as easily disposable and replaceable as a hammer. But if they're lucky, their family sees them more like a treasured pet. It just depends on the family.

Horror News Network: Is this an ongoing or mini-series?

Matt Gagnon: As with most series, the fans and the market will dictate that. I will say that Brian, Mike, and I have a big mythology here with a lot of stories we want to tell.

Michael Alan Nelson: This is a world with 50 families and we're focusing on two of the smaller, younger ones at the lower end of the vampire heirarchy. There's a ton of story here to tell.

Horror News Network: What can we expect from this book in terms of blood, guts and things that go bump in the night?

Matt Gagnon: Oh, I think we’ll have you covered there! If nothing else, Brian is flat-out creating a brand-new world visually; it’s dark, sexy, violent, sleek, and meticulously executed. In particular, I’m really fond of the way he’s illustrated how fast vampires move in this world. I was hoping to find a way to communicate the speed of vampires in the art without using too many coloring effects. Of course, Brian figured it out and just delivered the coolest visual style. There’s an action scene in the first issue that I can’t wait for people to see.

Michael Alan Nelson: Brian has done such an amazing job of creating an aesthetic that works on so many levels. The gore coupled with the beauty makes this book truly something to see. Seriously, it's just SO damn pretty. And it's those moments of beauty and sensuality that really makes the more gruesome elements stand out in a visceral way.

Horror News Network: Can you talk a bit about Brian Stelfreeze joining you on this series?

Matt Gagnon: I really can’t say enough good things about Brian. He’s known as an artist’s artist. His career spans three decades and contains lasting works on franchise characters as well as his own. He’s truly a modern master and one of the best we have in this industry.

It’s funny, we’ve been stripping a lot of the hyperbole and buzz words out of our solicitation copy to speak more sincerely with our retail partners. But as we were writing copy for DAY MEN, it was cracking us up—what sounded like hyperbole was honest-to-goodness reality. This really WILL be one of the best-looking books of the year. It really is an event anytime Brian steps up to the plate and draws a long-form series. He hasn’t done this since 2005, so it’s a big deal. I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to work with him.

Michael Alan Nelson: Exactly what Matt said. But what I love most about Brian's work is not just that it's beautiful and inspiring to look at, but it adds so much to the story. Character positions, facial expressions, settings and decor, all of it serves a purpose. Brian's craft in and of itself is awe inspiring, but the intelligence with which he approaches story puts his work on a completely different level.

Horror News Network: Where can our readers find out more about you guys and this series?

Matt Gagnon: Incidentally, we just launched a new boom-studios.com that we’re very excited about! You can find me on Twitter here: @mattegagnon. And if you’re on Tumblr our editorial team at BOOM! has a group page called the BOOM!Pen (http://boompen.tumblr.com/).

And most importantly, the first issue of DAY MEN is on sale July 17th! We’ll have copies at Comic-Con as well. If any of you readers out there will be at the show, stop by and say hi! Brian, Mike, and I will be there.

Michael Alan Nelson: I'm @roquesdoodle on Twitter and bounce around various social media sites, peeking around corners and skulking in the shadows. I'm pretty easy to find.

Horror News Network: In closing, what would you like to say to our readers about Day Men?

Matt Gagnon: First of all, thanks for supporting genre stories like this. You folks are the reason we’re able to do this. That’s one of the reasons we’ve put everything we have into this series. We believe our readers deserve to get their money’s worth. That’s really important to me personally. We believe in this series and the world that we’re building. So we tip our hat to our readers out there and look forward to you joining us on this journey!

Horror News Network: Thanks for your time guys! Best of luck on this book!

Rob Caprilozzi on Twitter
Rob Caprilozzi
CEO / Owner at Horror News Network
Rob Caprilozzi created Comic Monsters in 2004 and eventually expanded the site in 2009 to Horror News Network. Born out his love for all aspects of horror, Rob still remains hardcore comic fan. You can keep up with him on Twitter @RobCaprilozzi.
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